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On the Trail of "Windjammer" - A Visit to Oslo

This article first appeared in
..in 70mm
The 70mm Newsletter

Written by: Thomas Hauerslev Issue 46 - September 1996
Our Norwegian hosts live from an Oslo basement storage for Bauer U2s. Left to right: Peter Andren (Sweden), Jan Olsen and Torkell Sætervadet (Norway), Willem Bouwmeester (Holland), and Thomas Hauerslev (Denmark. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

In late 1995 I left Copenhagen by train bound for Oslo, the beautiful capital of Norway. The goal of the journey was an interview with the director of "Windjammer", Mr Louis de Rochemont III. The interview had been arranged by Mr Willem Bouwmeester, a long-time Cinerama and Cinemiracle enthusiast. Willem, a native Dutch fellow, was in Stockholm on IMAX business and we should meet in Oslo the same evening. The train ride took 10 hours so I had a lot of time to prepare my knowledge about Cinemiracle and "Windjammer".

In Oslo we were greeted welcome by local projectionist and Bauer U2 aficionado Mr Torkel Sætervadet. We stayed in his flat, enjoyed his hospitality and Norwegian beer. I had met Torkel in Copenhagen a month earlier and accepted his invitation to stay with him.

The first evening ended around 2 AM in the morning. The next day, refreshed from a good nights sleep, we took off to meet one of the stars of "Windjammer" Mr Harald Tusberg. Before our meeting we had breakfast at a cafe at the famous Carl Johan pedestrian street in down town Oslo. At 10:30 we had a meeting with technical chief Mr Guttorm Petterson of Oslo Kinematografer. We discussed the possibility of installing 3-strip equipment at Colosseum for a short season with "Windjammer". Guttorm was interested in the project, but did not have the final word in this case. Additionally, as Oslo Kinematografer will be dealing with enthusiasts, they will probably demand some sort of financial guarantee. After the visit to Oslo Kinematografer, straight on to Harald Tusberg who turned out to be a delightful fellow with a good sense of Norwegian humor. Having been employed by NRK (Norwegian State TV) for nearly a quarter of a century. Harald is known by every man in Norway. Harald is deeply involved working with Friends of S/S Christian Radich.
 

Further in 70mm reading:

The Return of Windjammer
Is Windjammer the queen of kitsch?

Internet link:

 

Willem Bouwmeester, Harald Tusberg and Thomas Hauerslev. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

S/S Christian Radich "played" the ship in "Windjammer". Seeing pictures Willem had brought along, brought back vivid memories of the filming of "Windjammer" and of 11 days in New York in June 1957.

Years earlier Harald had contacted Willem about the possibilities of showing the original 3-strip version of "Windjammer" in the Colosseum cinema in Oslo. "Windjammer" is by all means a Norwegian film and it is known by every man in Norway and many 3-strip enthusiasts in the world. The showing should coincide with the 25th anniversary of Friends of S/S Christian Radich the 5 November 1996. We discussed the idea for an hour and agreed to do some research. The 3-strip projectors could be found in Sweden, a faded print in Holland and possibly a new sound master from Hollywood. The original soundtracks are stored in the Bell & Howell building [in LA]. The original Norwegian cinema, The Colosseum in Oslo, is still there and could be converted to 3-strip Cinemiracle for a short season.
 
 
Cadets Bouwmeester and Hauerslev. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

After our meeting with Harald we went to see the ship itself. The S/S Christian Radich is still in active duty and is an important part of the Norwegian school of cadets. The ship is stationed in Oslo by Acke Brygge. We were invited onboard by Mr Steiner Strøm. I had brought the soundtrack along and Steiner found a tape recoder to play it. There we were. On board the S/S Christian Radich, star of "Windjammer" drinking beer and listening to the original soundtrack by Morton Gould (perhaps his finest achievement). We were taken for a tour around the ship. It was amazing to see how confined the space was. Considering the size of the Cinemiracle camera it is quite amazing they ever filmed as much as a single foot of film on that ship. The camera were colossal and very unmovable.
 
 
Hauerslev, Bouwmeester, Louis de Rochemont and Alf Bjerke. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

The same evening was our big night. The meeting with Mr Louis de Rochemont III. What kind of man was he? I had no idea. I had never met a veteran movie director before. I was very excited.

Willem and I were picked up by Mr Alf Bjerke who drove us 25 kilometers south of Oslo to the home of de Rochemont III. We went to a very good restaurant (The Villa Sandviken) were the four of us had dinner. Louis turned out to be an extremely nice and polite man. He had a good sense of humor too. He moved to Norway in 1979 after a long life in the States. He is now married to a Norwegian woman, Turi.
 
 
Willem had a long list of Cinemiracle questions which Louis did his best to answer. During our lovely meal (whiskey stakes and red wine) Louis memory slowly revealed a lifelong interest in the movies. When he saw Willems pictures he remembered more and more of the past. It was extremely interesting to hear about the filming of "Windjammer" and "Cinerama Holiday" by the man who responsible for them. So many stories and anecdotes. We were all ears that evening. It was incredibly exciting as if we were there on the set nearly 40 years earlier.

I had brought some pictures along from two Todd-AO shorts. The credits from those films are limited to the point of non-existent. My hope was to put some information on paper about "The Miracle of Todd-AO" and "The March of Todd-AO". Loius de Rochemont II (Big Louis among friends) produced both Todd-AO shorts for the Todd-AO Company. Louis was in charge of both films both as director and assistant to the director. That evening recovered more information about the Todd-AO shorts than anyone can find in any reference book anywhere. Before we departed 4 hours later we took a few photographs in the kitchen. The only place in the restaurant with enough light.

"Around the World in 80 Days" on the curved screen at the magnificent Colosseum in Oslo. Image by Thomas Hauerslev.

The next day, Saturday, our friendly host, Mr Torkel Sætervadet and his co-Bauer U2-collector Jan E Olsen had arranged for us to see some 70mm film at the vast Colosseum screen. The first film was the 22 min 70mm short "Svalbard - Arctic Seasons" produced, directed and photographed by Mr Hans Kristian Bukholm from Bergen, Norway. The main attraction was a Todd-AO 30 frames-per-second version of "Around the World in 80 Days". An experience I eagerly had awaited. The 70mm print was nearly untouched but slightly faded. There we were, sitting in a 1200 seater cinema with a 22,35 *) meter curved screen watching Todd-AO. Watching is a bad word. We experienced Todd-AO as it was meant to be seen at thirty frames per second.

After a very hectic weekend Willem and I went on to our normal lives (if such a word exists). On behalf of Willem, I would like to thank Alf, Harald, Jan, Louis and Torkell for a pleasant and highly interesting week-end.

*) The screen is 22,35 metres along the curve. It is 20,2 metres across, and 3,5 metres deep. That size makes it the largset screen in Northern Europe.
 
 
 
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Updated 22-12-16